The National Observatory for Open Source Software (ONSFA) is the centre of excellence for the analysis and monitoring of free open source software in Spain. The Observatory is also a meeting point and a place for dialogue, where the most important agents in open source software can share knowledge and ideas.
In 2011, the ONSFA has launched a Survey on Open Source Software in the Spanish Government.¬† The study focused on a population of 198 public organisations (from 210 organisations, 12 were eliminated for having confirmed that they have no IT department), with a 95.5% confidence level (two sigmas) and P=Q (maximum uncertainty), with an error for the sample set of ¬Ī4.42%.
The aim of this research is to ascertain the level of use of open source software in the public sector, acquisition forecasts, practices and policies related to public procurement of software, the release and reuse of applications, and identify barriers adoption of these technologies by agencies of the State Administration.
1. Most of the organisations belonging to the Spanish Government (AGE) use free and/or open source software (OSS) for both servers and desktop systems. More specifically, 9 out of 10 organisations have open code solutions deployed on their servers, while 8 out of 10 use open source desktop programs.
2. Analysing how they were acquired, we find that 68% have acquired the open source technologies they have implemented for free, accessing them from a software repository or forge; 46% have engaged in their own developments using open source solutions; 33% of the organisations have issued tenders for the acquisition of commercial open source software; and 27% report having reused open source solutions from another public administration.
3. In terms of the volume of open source software deployed on the servers at organisations in the Spanish government (programs, operating systems and utilities, both in production and in testing or pre-production environments), approximately 40% is open source software. With regard to desktop software as a whole, open code solutions represent around 15%.
4. Of the 40% of the open source software installed on servers, nearly 19% has been downloaded for free from a forge or repository, 12.6% has been developed in-house using open source solutions; approximately 5% is commercial open source software resulting from a public tender and 2.82% is reused open source software from another public administration. The open source desktop software available in the organisations has mainly (12%) been downloaded from a repository or forge.
5. More than half of the organisations in the Spanish government (55.4%) report that the open source software deployed on their servers provides support for critical applications.
6. The practice of releasing OSS solutions is not very widespread, given that 3 out of every 4 organisations have neither released solutions they have developed internally nor plan to do so in the short term, mainly because they have not considered doing so (70%), or they do not have a strategy for releasing them (31%). Around 18% of the organisations have released software and 6% plan to do so in the near future.
7. Meeting software expectations and performance requirements are, in the opinion of IT department managers, the main criteria shaping policies and practices for software acquisition. Important aspects include interoperability with other products, software guarantees, ease of customisation and migration, support and maintenance costs.
8. The shortage of personnel who are experts in open source solutions and the resulting need for training is considered to be the main barrier or aspect that complicates the adoption of open source software in the public administrations.
9. In the case of public tenders for software solutions, normally there are no departments or methodologies available to assess the quality of the software offered (79% of the organisations). In these tenders, it is also not customary to stipulate that the proposed solutions must consider the use of open source solutions (38%). Nevertheless, while not specifically requiring the solutions offered to be open source, 2 out of every 10 organisations take a favourable view of offers that consider open source solutions and 1 out of every 10 organisations clearly stipulate in the tenders that, as far as possible (taking into account the department's system architecture), software components must be open source.
10. In the opinion of the heads of the IT departments in collaborating organisations, the level of knowledge in the field of open source software on behalf of technicians in their departments is average (49% of the organisations) to poor (37%), with there being a general consensus about the need to improve knowledge about open source software among department personnel (86% of the organisations).